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Khalid, always the dreamer, tries to participate in the political and cultural life of the teeming city—to often humiliating and comic result. Tiring of their sojourn, he convinces Shakib they should return to Lebanon. But their heads are now full of New World ideas. And Khalid, trying to improve his brethren, turns his understanding of Western thought into a call for political progress, and religious unity and tolerance in the Arab world. A call that has him, accidentally, almost founding a new religion—and almost becoming its first martyr, when his ideas incite the faithful to riot.

Born in Lebanon, he spent his teen years in New York, where, with his friend Kahlil Gibran, he was part of the literary and artistic circles of the day. As a writer, he was greatly esteemed in the United States during his lifetime, and he remains widely read in the Middle East to this day.

As result of the growing conflict, Khalid is excommunicated, Najma is forced to marry another, and Khalid moves to the mountain forests and starts to live as a hermit. During this period of exile, he contemplates nature and integrates lessons learned in America with his views on the cultural and political dilemmas of the Arab world. He evolves into a self-identified "voice" for the Arabs, and chooses to return to spread his views on liberation from the Ottoman empire and on the importance of religious unity and scientific progress.

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Khalid travels to different cities engaging in political and spiritual speech, periodically writing letters to Shakib. During his travels, Khalid meets an American Baha'i woman named Mrs. Gotfry with whom he discursively engages on questions of love and religion. He travels to Damascus where he speaks in the Great Mosque about his views of the West and of religious tradition, producing a riot and prompting the Ottoman authorities to pursue his arrest.

He flees with Mrs. Gotfry to Baalbek, where he meets Shakib and learns that Najma, along with her young son, is abandoned and now ill. All of them Khalid, Mrs.

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Gotfry, Najma, her son, and Shakib flee together into the Egyptian desert to escape the Ottoman authorities. After an idyllic period in the desert of several months, Mrs. Gotfry and Shakib leave.

Najma's son, Najid, dies suddenly of an unexpected illness, and Najma relapses and follows him in death in her grief. Khalid disappears and does not contact Shakib; his whereabouts are unknown. The central theme of the novel is the attempt to reconcile the culture and values of "the West" and "the East," a universal concern in Rihani's work, and, indeed, entire approach to life. Khalid ruminates constantly on the merits and future destiny of America, which he connects to the Arab world in their own struggles with the Ottoman empire and with religious intolerance and conflict.

The Book of Khalid

Like Rihani himself, who synthesized two distinct cultures perhaps more than almost any other writer of the time, Khalid, having experienced America and considered its strength and weaknesses during his stay of several years, returns and develops a philosophy that engages the Arab public directly. He is continually frustrated with America's materialism and inconsistent pursuit of its stated ideals, but he still believes that America represents a powerful force in the world's future evolution and that the Arab world can learn from its political ideals, relative respect for religion, and embrace of science and progress.

Although these expressions result in his own persecution, he emerges as a modern prophet with a combined political, cultural, and spiritual message. As a result, there has been an attempt to publicize and promote the work, which many believe to have been understudied, especially in comparison with the extraordinary popular The Prophet. With a follow-up effort called " Project Khaled ", he made plans to create a new educational edition of the novel and promote the anniversary.

The book also includes a HybridBook component, linking to free download of ten essays written by Ameen Rihani. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Al-Jazeera Report on Ameen Rihani and The Book of Khalid (Todd Fine and May Rihani)

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